Tag Archives: listening

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constructive contributions

Constructive Contributions Are Valuable In The Workplace

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Conditioning plays a role in much of what we do. As children or young adults many have learned to keep quiet, to not say anything, and just sit back and observe. However, it is constructive contributions that will have an impact on your future.

Speak Up, Listen, Contribute

Many people are afraid to speak up. It may be from ridicule, from the risk of being wrong, or because past experience has taught us it is safer without comment.

There is value in listening more, and many people should practice better listening, but what things are going unsaid?

How many times have you sat in the meeting with a thought on your mind but you failed to share it? How many times could the lost sale, lost client, or lousy performance have been prevented?

Measuring Risk

The value of constructive contributions is very high but like many high value items it is often very rare.

People often measure risk in the wrong way. What is riskier, speaking up, or watching the team go down the wrong path?

It may be alarming the number of times that things go unsaid. Of course, sometimes inaction may be the right action. How do you know what to do?

Constructive Contributions

When you paraphrase, you often increase understanding and limit miscommunication. What is the risk or the harm? Little or none.

When you build on others ideas for the benefit of the decision, there is little effort wasted and the quality of the decision improves. You also invite future contributions.

When you take a chance, leap, and risk with thoughtful, constructive contributions, you may change the outcome. You may invent something new, better, or appropriately encourage redesign.

The best job security, the highest probability for a promotion, and the insurance of a future for your organization may exist through constructive contributions.

While there may be some risk, the value is great.

Ante up.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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service escalation

Service Escalation and Why Your Customers Ask For It

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“Follow the chain of command.” That is what we are often taught. Many workplace professionals identify this as a sign of respect, integrity, and loyalty. Are your customers asking for service escalation?

It happens the moment a customer asks to speak with the manager. Some customers may act on impulse. They have learned from experience that you need to jump to a higher level to get results.

Starts Internally

The same is true internally. When the operations group feels that the sales group over-committed. When the sales group feels that operations aren’t fulfilling efficiently. Employee teams either solve the problems or escalate them.

In most cases there is a force at work here. The force is trying to stop the escalation. The concept is simple. When you stop the problem from escalating you are servicing the customer more efficiently.

No fingers are pointed. Time and effort are minimized. Everyone is happy. At least that is the concept.

It is a tug-of-war with the customer. For the customer it may send the message that their service problem is not important. The customer demands escalation, the leadership wants to train the staff not to escalate.

Training the staff to avoid escalation has value to the customer, but only when it is proven. Proof occurs when the staff is appropriately empowered (and trained) to solve problems.

Service Escalation

In the smallest organization, the President is the front line. Things typically work out. In every organization larger than the smallest, different challenges develop.

Organizational leaders should understand the challenges faced by the customer. A good starting point is listening carefully to those they have empowered on the front line.

The culture of service internally is what the external customer always feels.

Escalation occurs when the customer feels it is required.

Listen for the requirements. It is a story you can’t afford to miss.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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redundancy impact

Redundancy Impact, Saying It Twice As Much

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Have you heard it all before? Are you suffering from redundancy impact? Does hearing it more than once have a deeper impact or is it weakening your communication?

It seems commonplace today. We get a marketing promotion email and we expect more to follow. We listen intently in the meeting and we keep hearing the same message. Is this a failure or exactly what we need?

Communication Repeats

Our business communications are cluttered with repeats. The habits we form are based largely on browse and scan. We believe we filter more effectively by just taking in tiny bits of information and labeling it as interesting, understood, and categorized. Otherwise, it is not heard.

Some people may be in love with the verbiage. It gives them confidence and satisfaction in repeating it over and over again. It does seem that redundancy has some form of impact, but what is it?

One problem area of redundancy is that many people, those who heard you the first time start to tune it out. It is Charlie Brown’s teacher, a mumble most won’t understand. More importantly, they decide they don’t care to understand.

Redundancy Impact

What is most important today probably needs to be said more than once. People expect it. People only half listen the first time or two, because they are too busy being distracted by something else. Chances are good things aren’t registering on the first pass.

All the clutter that we face is not necessarily the fault of the speaker, or of the listener, but a dynamic that has evolved in World full of constant noise.

Among all the noise, we may have to wonder what we are missing. Is our filter too fine or too loose?

Redundancy impact may feel costly, but it is likely much less expensive when compared with the price of not being heard at all.

There are some things that are worth saying more than once, and certainly those that are valuable enough to hear again.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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learning moments

Learning Moments From The People Who Get It

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Telling someone isn’t the way the most meaningful learning occurs. Knowledge transfer and retention are much more impactful in learning moments, which are much different from telling moments.

Frustrated workplace leaders discuss it with me often. They insist that they have instructed employees dozens of times, but still they do the wrong thing at the wrong time. Certainly, there may be many reasons for this, but one reason is that telling an employee may be different than helping them learn.

Learning Stories

People love stories. Some of the best storytellers are in fact great teachers. Stories can ignite learning moments when listeners connect with it emotionally.

In other cases, people are stuck in their habits. They hear the story but they really aren’t listening to learn, they are only listening to hear. There is a difference in the outcomes.

What happens when you believe you know the answer? Do you suggest a different path for those involved, but still they make the wrong choices? Logic often suggests that we must tell them again.

Whether we like to admit it or not, much of the power in learning comes with an emotional connection. When people are open to change or they desire change, it can occur easily. Sometimes we have to create learning moments, that moment when someone else becomes captivated enough to be inspired for change.

Evaluating Answers

Telling someone the answer is not nearly as powerful as when the person can evaluate why it is the best answer. Sure, we can teach to the test. When those being tested care enough to learn the answer, they can store it in their memory.

Many can argue, this is learning, but learning the correct answer is not always the same as understanding it.

This is precisely why advertising is designed to connect with your emotions. In the 1950’s or early 1960’s smoking was considered cool, and advertisers helped create that image. In the 1980’s we had the fried egg commercial that advised against drug use.

Today training programs or advertising campaigns may include gory safety videos, car accident scenes demonstrating outcomes of driving while distracted, or even active shooter programs that ignite fear in an attempt to make a difference for saving lives.

Learning Moments

Sometimes the best way you can help someone learn is by helping him or her discover the answer, not by telling them.

Good advice can make a difference, but often, learning moments don’t come from the mere act of advice.

Advice connected with personal experience is often much more valuable. Help someone figure it out and you’ll create a learning moment that sticks.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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stop listening

When To Stop Listening and Other Failures

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Listening is one of the most important parts of communication. It is also the most taken for granted. Do you know when to stop listening?

A few years ago, I was facilitating a session with a group of senior managers and executives about communication. During a subgroup breakout portion, I overheard the CEO say, “It is impossible for us to fail.”

It grabbed my attention and I listened more carefully. At first, I thought perhaps he was mocking a comment from someone else, soon I realized he was completely serious. It told me a lot. A lot about his Company and it provided the only answer I needed about why we were there in the first place.

Generations of Ownership

This business is in its second or third generation of family ownership. In terms of workforce generations this CEO is a traditional. It includes a disruptive workforce resisting a turnover to the next in line in the family tree.

I have often wondered about the long-term positioning for their future.

“Impossible to fail” can probably be translated to, “We have stopped listening.”

A service and technology driven economy have cause many shifts in many sectors. This business was an exception. An exception because there hasn’t been a shift. There hasn’t been a shift for decades. Sure, they’ve installed some technology, but only for metrics and measurements.

Don’t get me wrong, metrics and measurements are critical, but the culture of the organization is still in the 1970’s or 1980’s at best. Who wants to work there? It is an easy answer, very few. Pay scales also tend to match the decade correlation of culture, which makes it even more difficult.

Stop Listening

My presence with this team was really a recognized effort to appease and silence the management team critics. The C-Suite team was hearing the outcry of need, but change was really about everyone else. They weren’t listening.

My impression is that the Company is not doing any better today.

When should you stop listening?

The answer is easy, “Never.”

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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listening improves customer service

How Listening Improves Customer Service

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Many organizations who actually take the time to self-reflect suggest that one area they could improve is in their communication. Listening is one of the most fundamental and easily improved skills. Have you considered how listening improves customer service?

As a business consultant and organization development professional, I hear it all the time. I hear it mostly because I am listening, listening carefully and watch the non-verbal cues. Many businesses believe they are too good to change.

Their focus is either on the CEO’s area of expertise, often a technical skill, or on getting more sales. Neither of these are a problem, until; their focus becomes their blind spot.

Blind Spots

I’ve heard CEO’s of small businesses ($15k – $65k annual revenue) repeatedly suggest that they are too big to fail. Some of them flat out say it. Others are saying it when you listen through the words.

If you’re following along closely, you might wonder why I’m even in the room? Think about that for a moment. Honestly, I’m typically there because someone on the team has suggested to bring me in and the top brass tolerates it because they hope it will silence the team.

Now, I’m not bashing my clients, not at all. I’m honestly trying to help. However, too big to fail sometimes equates to too big to listen. This is most likely why the second string in the C Suite has recommended we work together. The first string tolerates it, again hoping to calm the restless.

Besides, they would never want to be accused of not supporting the team. The team needs this, but perhaps they do not, at least that may be the thought.

Customer Service Connection

The customer service connection should be starting to become clear. We’re in a service oriented economy. That isn’t really new, it has been shifting for decades, and many believe that it is accelerating.

In a service economy, the most valuable core principles should be closely aligned with [customer] service. This is important internally and externally. It is important for sales, brand promise, and understanding lifetime value.

Where are most organizations focused? They are focused on the external, closing the sale, increasing profit, and forging new relationships. Certainly, of course they are, as they should be. However, their focus on external push often eliminates listening to the service requirements.

Listening Improves Customer Service

How does this happen? Too big to fail, equates to too big to listen, which makes their actions and behaviors consistent with too big to care.

Caring is one of the most violated principles in a service economy. They may care, but sometimes they care incorrectly. Caring about closing the sale is sometimes not the same as caring enough to listen.

Listening, that is where it all starts. Not hearing, but listening.

In case you’re wondering, there is a difference.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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being heard appreciative strategies

Being Heard : 15 Ways to Get Better Listeners

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It seems that there is always a lot of talk. The question might be, “Are you being heard?”

In my business as a consultant, professional speaker, and corporate trainer there is always an interest in listening. There are books, videos, and seminars that reach out to people about mastering the skills of exceptional listening.

Workplace Concepts

It seems that the responsibility for information intake is in the hands of the listener, not the person speaking. If you’re really hoping to be heard you might be thankful for those who have great listening skills.

In the workplace the concept often is: respect me because I am talking, listen better because I’m providing value. The idea of speaking to one, or hundreds might appear to be about push, but what if it was about pull?

What if it is more about people being interested, drawn in, and compelled to hear what you have to say? How do you create that environment? What makes people want to listen?

There was a series of popular television commercials in the 1970’s and 1980’s whose tagline is well known to many of the baby boomer and gen X population. The tagline is, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

E.F. Hutton was known by many as one of the most respected financial firms in the United States. Its commercials often featured investors in conversation at crowded places and when E.F. Hutton was mentioned everyone stopped to listen.

Being Heard

Is being heard about respect? Many people will tell you that respect is earned.

If you want to be heard what you might want to push for is earning more respect. Here are fifteen ways to do it:

  1. Take responsibility
  2. Listen first
  3. Stop blaming
  4. Acknowledge good work
  5. Compliment others
  6. Build people up
  7. Appreciate honest efforts
  8. Gossip less
  9. Worry about your attire, not others
  10. Don’t bully
  11. Tell the truth
  12. Be helpful
  13. Don’t judge
  14. Value people
  15. Be kind

The next time you talk, will anyone be listening?

Perhaps the best way to capture listeners is with respect.

Be heard.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Understanding First, Offering Opinions Later

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When you master the skill of understanding first and offering your opinions later you might find some big changes in your life or career. Taking aggressive positions on subjects or arguments typically doesn’t lead the way to the best relationships, or the best opportunities for career advancement.

Understanding first appreciative strategies

For the Baby Boomer and Gen X population it might be Stephen R. Covey, who first brought forward the idea of, Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood. This represented an entire chapter in his 1989 book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Understanding First

Whether consciously known to them or not, great communicators often follow Covey’s advice.

There is much more to be gained by being a better listener, seeking to understand, and evaluating the possible root causes of a miscommunication, a complaint, or a disagreement rather than quickly jumping to conclusions and assertively expressing your opinion.

When you’re seeking first to understand you’re either thinking to yourself, asking questions of others, or perhaps both. Here are a few thoughts or questions that might be helpful:

  • What makes them (the other person) feel so strongly about their point?
  • What background or past experiences have caused them to draw this conclusion?
  • Do they seem considerate for mutual interests and compromise or are they taking a position?
  • Are there any emotional triggers that anger them or make them adamant about their conviction?

Unfortunately current societal trends are sometimes supporting being the loudest, nastiest, or angriest you can be regardless of the consequences. Just because you can do it, doesn’t always mean it is a good idea.

Opinions Later

Read that email you just received carefully and without bias. Listen carefully during conversations. Do your homework, read the book, or study from the diagram. Do it metaphorically or do it literally, but make sure you do it.

Ask open and honest questions, appropriately engage with others, and avoid having expectations or predetermining outcomes that support only your own agenda.

Your opinions might be important, valuable, and serve your position well, but only deliver them with the utmost courteously and respect.

Do as Covey suggested, “Seek first to understand.”

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Start Listening For Facts, It Might Change Your Career

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People talk, and sometimes people listen. Have you ever truly considered what you are hearing? Are you listening for facts?

Listening for facts

One of the biggest struggle spots with our communication, or perhaps miscommunication comes from our listening skills. Of course this is not a surprise but have you ever stopped to consider how you are speaking or what you are hearing?

Listening is not the same as hearing. We hear sounds, noises, and even voices. Hearing is instinctual, it comes naturally. Listening is a developed skill.

Speaking With Opinions

Many people speak with opinions. They offer their beliefs, values, or understandings as being factual even though they might be nothing more than their opinion.

  1. We went to the movies last night and saw the best movie ever!
  2. Try the peanut butter pie at Frank’s Restaurant on the corner of 4th and Elm. They have the best peanut butter pie.
  3. Sally is such a morning person.
  4. I’ve known Jack for years. He is a really nice guy.
  5. Please email me the report when you are finished. I need it sooner rather than later.

While we are navigating our life or our workplace, we often accept what we hear as being completely factual. In addition, misunderstandings often happen when our message is not clear.

Listening For Facts

Let’s consider the statements just presented, only this time, let’s look for them to be more factual.

  1. We saw a great movie last night. I thought it was the better than most because in the end the underdog came out on top.
  2. I’ve had peanut butter pie at many restaurants, the one I like the best is at Frank’s Restaurant on the corner of 4th and Elm.
  3. Sally always gets to work in the morning before I do.
  4. Whenever I see Jack he smiles and shakes my hand.
  5. When you finish with the report please email it to me. I need it before my 9:00 AM meeting tomorrow.

Clearer, more precise, perhaps a little longer sometimes, but speaking with facts helps everyone develop a better understanding. One problem is that many of us not only speak with our opinions, but we try to make it very compelling so the listener is accepting it as being factual.

Career Changer

There is great value in understanding more about facts and opinions, especially when buying or selling. When you are selling, you’ll want to be very compelling. Even when it is just your ideas being sold to your boss or the board of directors.

Listen to yourself, be aware of the messages you are sending. We might have strong feelings about many things in life, but if we want accuracy we should be more careful about how we communicate.

Consequences for not understanding the difference between a fact and an opinion can be big. Miscommunication and misunderstandings are costly for businesses and perhaps costly for your career.

When we are hurried or trying to do two things at once, we often don’t listen well. That is a fact.

Take the time, or make the time. Start listening for facts.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Customer Needs, Understand Them or Wish That You Had

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Knowing exactly what they want might be better stated as, “I think I know exactly what they want.” Fast, friendly, and courteous are all things that are synonymous with exceptional customer service. Understanding customer needs might not always be so simple.

Customer needs

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who insists on finishing your sentences? I know I have, and I know I’ve been the one finishing the sentence for others from time-to-time.

Usually it isn’t so much that we believe we know it all, it is probably more about demonstrating we are on the same page. At least, that might be what we tell ourselves.

Ride a bike, lift some weights, run, jog, or walk, exercise takes energy. The same is true for being a great listener, having extreme concentration, and even for reading a book.

Do you work hard to understand your customer’s needs?

Customer Needs

If you’re going to understand your customer, you’re going to have to listen, and therefore you’re going to have work hard to understand. Finishing a sentence might signal you’re on the same page or it might signal that you don’t have time to listen.

If you’re going to understand what the customer wants or needs you should consider doing more of this:

  1. Make time. Being hurried seldom helps. Signal that you have the time or will make the time.
  2. Arrive. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you are first or last, what will matter the most is that you arrive. Mentally and sometimes physically.
  3. Be patient. Not everyone wears their emotions or thoughts on their sleeves. Allow for expressions of pain points. Practice patience.
  4. Assume nothing. Thinking you know the immediate answer to their problem sometimes works, it also sometimes doesn’t. Assume less often.
  5. No anger. Anger never helps. Passion is good but getting emotional probably isn’t going to help you learn more about their needs.

Engage with your customers, do the math, get on the same page. Use your energy because understanding customer needs isn’t always about a race, nor is it necessarily about being first. In addition, it’s almost never about being rushed or hurried.

Sometimes trying to be first just might make you last, or in the eyes of the customer, to not exist at all.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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